A Walk In The Park (Plaza): Words To Live By     Part 5: Prepare Yourselves Soundly With The Basics.

By Mayer Smith


A good command of English and Math provides you with the bases upon which you can build in any direction.  The arts provide different kinds of basics that help you to enjoy life to the fullest … but be sure to get the English & Math down solid first.  If these give you trouble, there are many audio-visuals available that will help simplify them for you. Also, there will be good people willing to help you.  All you have to do is ask.

To the old-timers:

You know what I am referring to.  We had to memorize our multiple times tables up to 10 or 12 along with additions and subtractions practices until we had it down so firmly we could do them in our sleep!  Someone told me recently that cash registers in the market are now being redesigned. From giving someone the exact amount of change, it is now being turned into knowing how many of each type of bill and coin to give to the customer.

We also had to drill in the proper use of first, second and third persons and their uses in subjective and objective situations.  We had to memorize when to use I, me, we, us, you, our, they and them.

To you youngsters up to college-age and beyond:

I fervently hope that the encounter I had recently with two female visitors to Park Plaza, ages 15 & 16, does not reflect the abilities of the typical teenager today.  They asked me how old I was. I answered “I was born in 1924. How old am I?” Their faces went blank and no response came forth!

It seems that teenagers and young adults today can no longer do math in their heads.  They seem to be totally reliant on their cell phones for even the simplest of math requirements.  I hope it is simply a matter of expediency rather than a lack of capability.  What worries me just a little is that they might put in the wrong input which is sure to give them the wrong answer that they might not recognize as such. That doesn’t happen when you’re able to do the math in your head.

As for the proper use of English…I cringe when I hear “Me and him did thus and so” instead of “He and I”.  This past Shabbos, I was chatting with a 21-year-old college student who is studying toward a degree in finance when I told him my feelings about “me and him”. He responded “it should be Him and I”!  Don’t even college students know it should be “He and I”?!

Are “Me and him” and the like now becoming acceptable due to popular usage?  Am I, at age 94, really out of touch with today’s world?

So far, the published word seems to be maintaining its level of professionalism.  That is encouraging. The occasional typo still turns up. But, that’s not so terrible.  Editors have so much copy to review they are bound to miss an occasional error that will not be caught until after publication.